What Caused the Measles Outbreak?

A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) claims to have the answers, but the analysis is deceptive.

From The Washington Post:

People who don’t get vaccinated are the most likely reason for the steady increase in the rate of measles and major outbreaks in the United States, according to an analysis released Tuesday.

The findings, published in JAMA, add to the body of evidence linking failure to vaccinate with the spread of the highly infectious and potentially fatal disease. Once common in the United States, measles was eliminated nationally in 2000 but has made a return in recent years largely because of people who reject vaccinating their children, experts say.

Comment: This is the same propaganda we heard as the outbreak was happening. It was wrong then, and it’s wrong now. The study looked at 1,789 measles cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) between 2001 and 2015, reporting that 70% were unvaccinated—but the authors admit that there was “lack of verifiable immunization on nearly half of the adult cases.” Even if we accept the study’s numbers at face value, it means that 30% of measles cases occurred in those who were vaccinated. An earlier JAMA study estimated that the vaccination rate among individuals that were exposed to measles during the 2015 outbreak at Disneyland was as high as 86%. There have even been cases where measles was transmitted in a school with a documented immunization level of 100%. What this tells us is that vaccination is not as effective at preventing disease as the public is often led to believe.

The study, and the media eagerly reporting on it, also fail to point out the fact that multiple studies have shown that vaccinated kids, especially those recently vaccinated, can spread disease, because the vaccine contains live virus.

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Obamacare Reinterpreted?

No, not by Congress—by a Trump executive order.

President Trump has signed an executive order expanding access to “association health plans”—policies that do not have to adhere to a number of Obamacare rules.

The idea, strongly supported by Sen. Rand Paul, is that individuals with a common profession or interest could band together and be counted as a “large-group” (equivalent to an employer) for health insurance purposes.

Individuals could thus opt out of the Obamacare plans they’re currently enrolled in, and presumably obtain lower rates when they buy into catastrophic or bare bones plans.  The consequence of the executive order could be a parallel, consumer-driven system, although one that could be reversed by the next president.

Association plans are regulated under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA).  “Large-group” plans are subject to fewer mandates than under Obamacare – such as having to offer Essential Health Benefits.  Large-group plans also have more leeway in setting premiums, which can be based on the health of the group (which is barred under the ACA for small-group plans).  Associations that gain large-group status could therefore offer less expensive coverage if they were made up mainly of younger, healthier members.

Most association health plans now in place are considered small-group plans.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has gone on record in opposition, arguing that it would “make insurance less available, make insurers less accountable, and prevent regulators from assisting consumers in their states.” This not surprising. State officials do not welcome competition from insurance approved in other states.

It is also unclear if the executive order will withstand legal scrutiny and challenge. Congress could also undermine the effort by refusing to fund changes to existing law made by the executive order.

This is just the start of the process. Several federal agencies have been directed to write rules implementing the executive order, so there will be future opportunities for the public to weigh in on the new regulations. We will keep you posted on these developments.

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A Door Opens for Insurance Coverage of Non-Opioid Pain Treatments

Thirty-seven state attorneys general recently wrote to American’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), saying that the status quo is unacceptable. We agree. Action Alert!

The letter urges AHIP to encourage healthcare providers to prioritize non-opioid pain management options–such as physical therapy, acupuncture, chiropractic care, and massage—over opioid prescriptions in the treatment of chronic pain.

Opioid addiction is killing people in startling numbers—more people each year than are killed in traffic accidents, and the single largest contributor to deaths among those younger than 50.

ANH agrees that insurers should rethink their policies and cover non-opioid pain treatments – but we would add a number of other treatments to the list, including CBD oil, fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids produce cannabinoids naturally in the body), boswellia, white willow bark and other anti-inflammatories, as well as electrical and magnetic treatments.

This would of course save insurers and patients a lot of money. Opioid treatments can cost patients thousands of dollars a year. An overall economic analysis suggests that prescription opioid use disorders and overdoses cost the US $78 billion in 2013 alone. Natural medicine is of course far cheaper—as long as Big Pharma isn’t allowed to corner the fish oil market, as Amarin is currently trying to do.

Action Alert! Send a message to AHIP, urging their member companies to heed the state attorney generals’ message and begin covering natural approaches to pain control. Please send your message immediately.

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Don’t Turn Vitamins into Drugs

We must keep the FDA from turning a vital nutrient over to Big Pharma. Action Alert!

An important study finds that carbidopa, a standard Parkinson’s drug, “irreversibly binds to and permanently deactivates” pyridoxal-5’-phosphate (P5P), a key form of vitamin B6 in the body. The authors describe the essential role P5P plays in the body: “[P5P] is required for the function of over 300 enzymes and proteins. Virtually every major system of the body is impacted directly or indirectly by [it].”

You’re not likely to hear from a conventional doctor how this drug destroys a vital nutrient in your body, just as you’re unlikely to hear how a host of other drugs interfere with the body’s absorption of key vitamins and minerals. (The FDA hasn’t approved alternative therapies for Parkinson’s, such as focused ultrasound, even though it is approved for similar conditions.)

Actually, the FDA would prefer you to take your B6 in the form of a drug. You may recall the case of pyridoxamine, one of three natural and bioavailable forms of vitamin B6. This vitamin has many health benefits; indeed, we could not live without B6. Notwitstanding, in 2009 the FDA banned the supplement form of pyridoxamine in response to a petition from a drug company, which wanted to use it in a drug formulation.

P5P faces a similar threat. The FDA is considering a petition from Medicure Pharma to ban P5P because the company wants to turn this crucial vitamin into a drug. This is especially scary—all forms of B6, natural or synthetic, must be converted to P5P for the body to use them. If the FDA approves the petition, anyone who is not able to convert synthetic B6 to P5P would have to rely solely on Medicure’s product to stay alive.

The FDA needs to know that we realize what’s going on, and that consumers won’t tolerate the loss of another vital nutrient, one that we would die without,  to the pharmaceutical industry.

Action Alert! Write to the FDA and urge them not to grant Medicure’s petition to turn P5P into a drug. Please send your message immediately.

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Leyla Weighs In: Getting to the root of acne

By Leyla Muedin MS, RD, CDN

Acne is not just the scourge of teenagers swimming in raging hormones, but in adults too who may have hormonal imbalances (i.e., perimenopause) or other health conditions that present as inflammation leading to a breakout.

Rather than resorting to antibiotics which will eventually cause imbalances in the ecosystem of the gut, or dangerous drugs such as Accutane which can cause ulcerative colitis, or skin creams which trade one problem for another: acne for dry, stinging skin, it’s important to identify the cause of breakouts.

Sugars and other refined carbohydrates feed the propionibacterium responsible for acne. Proinflammatory vegetable oils used in chips, fried food and other heavily processed foods only worsen the problem.

Bad bacteria in the gut can manifest as acne on the face, chest and back (‘bacne’). Testing for dysbiosis will help identify it so we can get rid of the bacteria. Then, implementing an appropriate probiotic treatment to reinoculate the gut with beneficial bacteria will help reduce if not completely eliminate breakouts due to bacterial overgrowth.

A leaky gut can also cause inflammation resulting in a breakout. Food allergies are often a culprit in acne and are further exacerbated by a leaky gut. An intestinal permeability test can identify if leaky gut exists and create the roadmap for proper nutritional intervention.

Women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) are often plagued with acne due to high levels of androgens (i.e., DHEA, testosterone). Those afflicted are often given oral contraceptives to regulate hormones but birth control pills can aggravate insulin resistance as well as deplete B vitamins and vitamin C.

Resolving the underlying insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia with the appropriate diet, supplements and lifestyle changes can help correct the hormone imbalances and diminish breakouts. Please note that many cases of PCOS will require prescription metformin in addition to diet and lifestyle changes.

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